I made the jump. Finally. I was running an obstacle race and every so often I would come across a hurdle, precisely placed in my path by the enemy, measured carefully in heights and distance. Just like in an actual race, failure to jump over the hurdle by knocking it down intentionally (self-sabatoge), going under it (taking the easy way out), or just running around it (unwillingness to change) is cause for disqualification. Sometimes the hurdles are knocked down accidentally and I find myself flat on my face on the all-weather synthetic track trying desperately to figure out how I got there. Did you get that? I said “all-weather” track. I am NOT at a disadvantage just because the tempests of life come through. The track is meant to support me as I run this race called life, regardless of the storms in the fall and winter of my existence. As I ran upon each one I would be able to clearly make out the names painted on the fence section: addiction, unemployment, financial insecurity, doubt, fear, death of a loved one, illness, relationships, and most recently – co-dependency.
There is a bit of training involved in running an obstacle race. How should we be expected to jump over these things unless someone shows us how? Many of us have never even tied our shoe laces to step onto the track, so we are completely unprepared when the race begins and the opponents of life break out of the gate ahead of us. In order to train ourselves to jump, we need mentors, pastors, counselors, and godly friends. We need people to speak into our lives and show us the way to go, how fast to run, the techniques we need to use. Proper technique and well-planned steps leading up to and between each hurdle can allow us maintain as we cruise through the track which in turn makes us stronger, better, and wiser. We have to be patient with our Coach, patient in the training. We can not expect to always get it right the first time, but when we fall, we MUST be willing to get back up and push forward to the next obastacle. We are never guaranteed that we can run the race without interference. We just have to run with the hopeful expectation (faith) that God will train us properly in life in order to vault the stumbling blocks that the enemy WILL put in our path.
Romans 5: 1-5 (NIV) – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Peace comes from submitting to authority and forgiving not only ourselves, but others. Hope comes when we believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will help us scale the obstacles of life when they come into view around the corner of the track. When we fall and when we suffer, we can be rest assured that God will use it for His purpose and His glory and that we will then be able to help someone else along the track and in turn show them how to jump the hurdles that we never before saw ourselves even jumping over.
Romans 15:1 (NIV) – We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Nothing is more frustrating that running a race alongside a teammate, coming upon a hurdle in life, jumping that sucker, then realizing you are running alone. Where did the teammate go? What happened to allow you to make it only to turn your head as the race continues to see your teammate just standing at the hurdle? A choice then has to be made, a choice that is never easy. As they stand there; looking at the hurlde, contemplating the hurdle, cussing out the hurdle, kicking the hurdle, pushing the hurdle, getting frustrated with the hurdle, talking to the hurdle, discussing with others about the hurdle; a choice has to be made. I can stop my own race and return to them on the other side of the hurdle and find myself stuck behind the same hurdle I just jumped. I can beg, I can plead, I can encourage, but I can’t CHOOSE for others how they run their own race. I can show them how to jump, but I can’t force them to make the decision to jump. Only Jesus can train us properly how to run our own obstacle race. So I press on, deciding not to be taken out by the mistakes of others, allowing myself the opportunity to grow and move in fluid movement with God as my Protector and Jesus as my Coach. It’s never easy making a decision to do the next right thing for myself, but I can’t afford to go back. I can’t afford to stop my race. I’m running, I’m jumping; and though none go with, I’m going THAT way!!
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV) – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.